At 12 million square feet spread over 26 acres atop the rail yards that stretch west from Penn Station, Hudson Yards is the "country's largest and densest real-estate development." With the first, $6 billion phase of developer Related Companies' project set to begin construction in a few weeks, with an expected 2017 completion date, Davidson asks if a private developer can "manufacture a complete and authentic high-rise neighborhood in a desolate part of New York."
"New York has always grown in nibbles and crumbs, and only occasionally in such great whale-gulps of real estate," observes Davidson. "In the richest, most layered sections of the city, each generation's new buildings spring up among clumps of older ones, so that freshness and tradition coexist. A project of this magnitude, concocted around a conference table, could easily turn out to be a catastrophe."
"The centrally planned district has its success stories-most famously, Rockefeller Center. Coordinated frenzies of building also produced Park Avenue, Battery Park City, and the current incarnation of Times Square. But this enterprise is even more ambitious than any of those, and more potentially transformative than the ongoing saga of the World Trade Center. New York has no precedent for such a dense and complex neighborhood, covering such a vast range of uses, built in one go."